News of Sydney Dance Company: Interview and Tour dates
Don’t miss the European Spring Tour 2018
See the terrific triple bill of Rafael Bonachela’s Lux Tenebris, Cheng Tsung-lung’s Full Moon and Gabrielle Nankivell’s Wildebeest at Théâtre National de la Danse Chaillot, Paris, at the Belgrade Dance Festival in Serbia, at Cankarjev Dom Cultural and Congress Centre in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in Germany at the Movimentos Festival, Wolfsburg.
World Premiere in Sydney
Explore the depth of human impulse with the world premiere of Rafael Bonachela’s ab [intra], meaning ‘from within’ in Latin, opening in Sydney on 14 May then travelling to Melbourne, NT, WA, QLD, NSW and ACT.
Interview with Victor Zarallo, an exciting new Member of the Company
Newly arrived from Scotland, Victor Zarallo makes his debut performance in April at the 15th Belgrade Dance Festival & Dance Councilof Serbia.
Most dancers started with a classical education and switched to contemporary dance. You started as a ballroom dancer and then went to John Cranko School in Stuttgart and Royal Ballet School in London. What was your personal reason for this?
I actually began ballet as a way to improve my ballroom dancing. I reached a point in ballroom where I wanted to improve my dancing, to work on my lines, my posture and to learn a little bit about the graceful attitude of ballet. In ballet you learn how to hold yourself, how to stretch your limbs, place your feet and turn your head to create a beautiful, fluid, graceful line. I wanted to bring the ballet style into my ballroom dancing.
Once I started ballet though, I discovered how much I really loved the style in its own right and a new obsession was born!
When I was working as a ballet dancer I had the opportunity to give modern dance a try and I had finally found my place!
What are the challenges of contemporary dance?
Unlike ballet, in contemporary dance you can’t rely on established technique when you are dancing, you need to bring a lot more of yourself to the work and that can be confronting. Contemporary dance is more of a collaboration between the dancer and the choreographer, so being able to not only learn and respond, but to also contribute is very important.
It’s really important to be able to listen to your body and to understand what you can do and what you can’t do as a dancer. Being authentic on stage is really important as a contemporary dancer, it’s a lot less possible to switch off and rely on muscle memory, you need to be present at every moment.
Do you do classical training in the morning classes as well? If yes, why?
Yes, we do ballet classes two or three mornings a week at Sydney Dance Company (which I really enjoy!). Ballet is the foundation of every style of dance, it’s important to continue working on your body to make sure those lines and that graceful attitude are still intact!
Do you need other training for contemporary dance? How do you train your body for the crazy moves required for contemporary dance?
The more you know, the more you can offer, just like an education in any type of field.
Each dancer is unique and what they offer on stage is also unique. We all bring a background of different styles of dancing, in my case ballroom and ballet, but we also bring our life experience, personal desires and needs to the dance floor. It’s a complex relationship between choreographer, dancer and the audience that produces the final work.
Obviously we need to stay fit and healthy and to work on flexibility and strength, which we do with a mix of things like pilates, pre-hab and a good diet.
We also rely a lot on our rehearsal director Chris Aubrey and of course the dancers who have been with the Company for a long time, who all have a good understanding of the movements Rafael Bonachela expects. When we are working on something new, as we are for ab [intra], we are all starting from the same point, which is really exciting.
For you personally, what was the hardest contemporary piece for you to perform and why?
The hardest piece I have ever performed was Glen Tetley’s 1967 Pierrot Lunaire, the piece that really brought modern dance into the wider world.
It is a contemporary piece, but it’s quite different to what we consider contemporary now. It’s a physically demanding work that required me to be on stage for 40 minutes without stopping. I performed it in Moscow and I’ll never forget how tough it was! I lost weight, I was so exhausted, but I learned so much from the challenge and I’m really proud of my achievement – being one of the few dancers who have actually performed Pierrot Lunaire on stage.
Most contemporary pieces have no story. How do you prepare yourself for a performance?
I approach each new work as a new relationship to be explored or a new lesson to learn. From the first day of rehearsing we begin developing history and a relationship with the work. We work with the choreographer’s thoughts, the composer’s thoughts, but then I start to bring my own personality and my own response to the piece that is being drawn in the rehearsal room. The other dancers do the same and slowly we start to build our own narrative.
The beauty of contemporary dance is there is something for everyone, whether you engage with the dancing purely as a physical expression of the body, or with the way the movement works within the music or the costumes respond to the lighting, it all comes together to create a unique experience for each person in the audience. It’s the same for us on the stage. Each dancer brings their own experience to the choreography to form a relationship with the final product.
When you are on tour, do you notice cultural differences in the audience? For example, do they clap more in a specific country?
Definitely! There are big differences in the way audiences respond, I think the most obvious difference was when I performed in Nanjing in China. The audience responded to us the same way we would respond to a football game, there was lots of chatting and laughing, cheering and waving while we were actually performing, they didn’t wait until we were finished! Luckily we knew what to expect, otherwise it might have been a little confronting for us!
The most important thing is everyone enjoys what we do, and the Nanjing audience certainly did!
Victor joined the Scottish Ballet in 2008 and was promoted to soloist in 2014. During this time Victor danced in Cinderella (The Prince) choreographer Christopher Hampson, Swan Lake (The Prince) choreographer David Dawson, Peirrot Lunaire choreographer Glen Tetley, Jiri Kylian1420, and The Five Tangos choreographer Hans van Manen, amongst others.
Victor moved to Australia and joined Sydney Dance Company in 2018. His first performance with the Company will be Frame of Mind, Lux Tenebris and Wildebeest as part of the 2018 Europe Tour.
More Information about the International Tour
In Serbia, Slovenia and Paris, the Company will perform Lux Tenebris, Full Moon and Wildebeest:
Belgrade Dance Festival
Serbian National Theatre, Novisad 3 April 8pm
Sava Center, 15th Belgrade Dance Festival & Dance Council of Serbia, 4 April 8pm
Gallus Hall, Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre, Ljubljana, Sat 7 April, 7.30pm
Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris, from 11-13 April 2018
In Germany the Company will perform Lux Tenebris, Frame of Mind and Wildebeest:
Autostadt, Wolfsburg 19 – 21 April at 8pm, 22 April at 6pm + workshop 21 April 11.30am (incl warm up for advanced amateurs)
More Information about the Australian Tour
Photo Credit: Pedro Greig